Tom Koehler the pitcher many hoped would replace the arm of Brandon Morrow had his season flushed when he hurt his right shoulder and will be out a minimum of two months. This will have a trickle down effect on the Dodger bullpen since Koehler was already penciled in as a lock.
With Dave Roberts announcing this weekend that five of his relief pitchers are going to be Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, Tony Cingrani, Scott Alexander, and inexplicably Ross Stripling that leaves three spots for the remaining candidates.
Dave Roberts named five of the eight relievers he believes will be part of #Dodgers bullpen: Kenley Jansen, Tony Cingrani, Pedro Baez, Ross Stripling, Scott Alexander. Roberts added “To get too far ahead of things doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) March 3, 2018
I can understood the four of the five having near locks in the bullpen but I’m not sure why Ross Stripling is a lock. Especially since he has two options and it might be more prudent to have being stretched as a starter in AAA.
David Hood wrote up JT Chargois and I still don’t understand how the Twins released him. As David noted he is now the highest ranked pure relief pitcher in the Dodger system.
Brock Stewart – should be starting in AAA which is where I’d also put Ross Stripling but we have to work with the idea of Ross being in the bullpen since Dave Roberts already said he’s a lock. Brock Stewart’s future may be in the bullpen but for now he should be stretched out as a starter and be part of the backup starting depth.
J.T. Chargois should start out in AAA to prove he’s healthy and get some innings under his arm after barely pitching the second half last year
The Dodgers have two lefthanders in the bullpen right now with Cingrani and Scott Alexander so the team doesn’t need either Liberatore or Paredes to make the team but I think one of them will. Liberatore is having an outstanding spring so far and looks like the guy who dominated the National League in the first half of 2016. A healthy Liberatore would go a long way to helping solidify the bullpen.
Josh Fields has yet to pitch this spring but I’d expect him to make the bullpen unless he’s not healthy.
Thus leaving the last spot between Yimi and Wilmer. I’ve stated before that Font will get a spot because he’s out of options. Yimi has one left and given he didn’t pitch last year it makes sense that he’s headed for AAA.
The dark horses or pitchers who will be in AAA are Pat Venditte the dual throwing relief pitcher who last pitched in the majors in 2016. Y Sierra who at times has looked like a major league relief pitcher but nothing like the pitcher the Dodgers are paying $3.5 Million to for 2017. Maybe now is his time. Justin DeFratus last pitched in the majors in 2015 with the Phillies. He has pitched more innings this spring than any other Dodger pitcher and at one time was an effective major league relief pitcher. Manny Banuelos can pitch his way into bullpen contention but he’ll have to do it from AAA. The big armed pitcher has plenty to prove this spring and not enough innings for it to happen this spring. Brian Moran was picked up last year from the Independent League and excelled in AA the final month of the season. He has pitched four innings already this spring so the Dodgers are giving him a look. His career was interrupted by TJ in 2014 and he is the longest of shots but 27 K’s in 19 innings with only 3 walks in AA does get your attention as does the fact the Dodgers have run him out there three times this spring and he’s been fantastic. Remember the career arc of Edwardo Paredes and you can see a light for Moran.
There is concern that the Dodgers need to trade for another bullpen piece or sign one via free agency. They might do it, but I think they will wait until the season starts and see how this group works out. The back four in Jansen, Alexander, Baez, and Cingrani could be very strong. Liberatore has been dominant when healthy so it would be wise to see which one shows up this season. Josh Fields isn’t anything special but he gets the job done most of the time. Font is a wild card, as is Yimi. If that group does not do the job or Pedro Baez isn’t up to snuff, they can make a move but I don’t see any reason to do one right now.
With the help of the Eric Stephen payroll sheet which is a handy place to find out how many minor league options each pitcher still has we can look at the bullpen this way.
|S Alexander||2||LH Setup|
|T Cingrani||0||LH Setup|
|P Baez||2||RH Setup|
|R Stripling||2||RH Early|
|J Fields||1||RH Early|
|A Liberatore||1||LH Early|
|W Font||0||RH Early|
|Y Garica||1||AAA Depth RH|
|E Paredes||1||AAA Depth LH|
|J.T. Chargois||1||AAA Depth RH|
|Brock Stewart||1||AAA Depth RH|
|Y Sierra||2||AAA Depth RH|
|More AAA Depth|
|Pat Venditte||AAA Depth RH/LH|
|Justin DeFratus||AAA Depth RH|
|M Banuelos||AAA Depth LH|
|Brian Moran||AAA Depth LH|
|Prospect who might help|